Alright! Well, Good morning everybody. Let’s take our Bibles this morning and open them to the book of Genesis chapter 13. The title of our message this morning is “A Great Paradox”, paradox being a contradiction, at least a contradiction from the human level. The Bible is filled with such contradictions; I think this is one of the reasons why God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise because God from the human level doesn’t make a lot of sense sometimes. So we’re going to see a major paradox, self-contradiction happening here in our passage in Genesis, 13.
We have completed Genesis 1 through 11 which is the beginning of the human race and now we’re in that section chapters 12 through, and as you now know, all the way through chapter 50 where it’s the beginning of the Hebrew race where God is raising up a special nation, the nation of Israel to mediate his blessings to the world and He begins by dealing with this man Abram. Abram being the progenitor of the nation of Israel and through the nation of Israel will come all the blessings that God wants to bring to planet earth.
Genesis, 12‒14 – Abram’s Early Journeys
It begin with Abram with a serious of unconditional promises, Genesis 12, verses 1 through 3 (Gen 12:1-3) and he begin under the commands of God to begin his trek, so to speak, out of the Ur of the Chaldeans and he’s walking by faith and he goes up north to a place called Haran and there God deals with Abram in Haran and then He says, Abram keep moving and he goes down south to a land he didn’t know called the land of Canaan and it’s in the land of Canaan that God begins to give to Abram unconditional promises, more unconditional promises. Such is the fact that the day history will come where he will possess all of that land. Well, Lord, we have a problem, the Canaanites are in the land and God says to Abram, that’s not your problem, that’s my problem. It’s kind of nice to live your life that way by the way, because there’s a lot of things in your life that you can’t move, amen? And as we turn those things over to the Lord they are no longer your problem, they are God’s problems and so this is the walk of faith that Abram is learning and he leaves Canaan, I think in disobedience and goes to Egypt and tells, spins some tall-tales, shall we say, learns some tremendous spiritual lessons and makes his way back to the land of Canaan and then God cuts the umbilical cord, so to speak, on Abram and He says, I want to separate you further from what you know and this leads to a division that we studied last week in the first twelve verses or so, a division between Lot and Abram, Lot being Abram’s nephew, and Abram, out of faith, essentially tells Lot, whatever path you want, whatever pasture you want, I will take the exact opposite. If you go right, I’ll go left, If you go left, I’ll go right and Lot of course operating by sight, took what he thought was the greenest pasture area in the land of Canaan and he pitched his tent towards Sodom and as that happens God makes a commentary, if you will, on Sodom that Lot was deciding to sojourn eventually within and it says in verse 13 (Gen 13:13): Now the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinners against the Lord… You’ll notice that the men of Sodom, Sodom and Gomorrah, we’ll talk about that when we get to Genesis, 19, not today, don’t worry, but the people in Sodom and Gomorrah, they weren’t just wicked, they were exceedingly wicked and they were committing wickedness against God Himself, which is the error of the wicked, they think that they are being wicked to their fellow men and the truth to the matter is no, they are being wicked towards God. The last time we saw language like that was just before the global flood. It says in Genesis, 6, 11 through 13 (Gen 6:11-13): Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence and God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for humanity had corrupted its way upon the earth. Then God said to Noah, “The end of humanity has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of people; behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth… The wickedness that was happening in the pre-flood world was being committed against God and God at that point says the days of that society, the days of that civilization are numbered, because the great deluge via the flood is about to happen. I believe that this deliberately parallels what we just read in Genesis, 13, concerning Sodom and Gomorrah. 6:31
Arnold Fruchtenbaum writes:
Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum – The Book of Genesis, 261
“The section closes with 13:13 giving the divine evaluation of Sodom: Now the men of Sodom were wicked. The Hebrew word for wicked describes external wickedness. It goes on to state they were sinners against Jehovah exceedingly. The Hebrew means ‘very sinners.’ Moreover, they were ‘very sinners’ against Jehovah, meaning God was offended…There is also a parallel here with the account of Noah. In both cases there is a concern of extreme wickedness (6:5, 8:21), and this corruption had to be wiped out (6:12–13, 19:13). In both accounts, it was one person and family that was spared.”
The section closes with Genesis 13:13 giving the divine evaluation of Sodom: Now the men of Sodom were wicked. The Hebrew word for wicked describes external wickedness. It goes on to say they were sinners against Jehovah exceedingly. The Hebrew means ‘very sinners.’ Moreover, they were ‘very sinners’ against Jehovah, meaning that God was offended… You know everybody today is worried about offending everybody. What about offending God? It says, there all…There is also a parallel here with the account of Noah. In both cases there is a concern of extreme wickedness, and this corruption had to be wiped out. In both accounts, it was one person and family that were spared… When you read Genesis, 13, verse 13 (Gen 13:13) you’re supposed to read about the flood and you’re supposed to think about how the entire world became right for divine retribution because of its level of wickedness and how high that level had reached.
The same thing is going on here with Sodom and Gomorrah. We know that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis, 19, beginning around verse 24 (Gen 19:24) is imminent. How do we know it’s imminent? Because of the pattern of God as He dealt with the pre-flood world. You say well, how does this apply to us? Oh, my goodness, in every way, because I often look at the condition of our country and I wonder how far until judgment. I mean, have we gone so far in our depravity and wickedness that our offenses have now risen up to God himself? One of the recent things that I can think of is a very pro-abortion piece of legislation that was passed in one of our bluer states in the union, let’s just put it that way and it wasn’t what bothered me and I think this happened a couple of years ago, maybe a year, year and a half ago, something like that. It wasn’t so much that you have another blue state passing another pro-abortion type of piece of legislation, what struck me was the celebration that the people had. The absolute glee that they took in it. How they took some of their key monuments, you know, I guess I’m naming the state here, the Empire State Building, how they lit that up with the rainbow color. By the way the rainbow belongs to God, do we understand that? (applauses) and it was sort of this emotional euphoria that overtook people and I, to be honest with you, I don’t remember that happening recently in American history. Maybe it did, I just didn’t see it, but I have never seen people so… and I don’t think everybody in that state felt this way but certainly the key movers and the shakers felt this way. I’ve never seen people so gleeful, so joyful, so happy about something that it’s just blatantly wicked and you ask yourself how long is God going to tolerate this kind of thing. There eventually reaches an end of it as the pre-flood world discovered, as the city of Sodom and Gomorrah will discover, Genesis, 19, where you go so far that you exhaust the patience of God Himself. God of course is all loving and all graceful and all patient and all merciful at all times but it has a limit and I think about things like this when I think about Sodom and Gomorrah and I think about things like this when I think about the pre-flood world. I think verse 13 (Gen 13:13) is designed by Moses the writer under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to get us to think in these terms. 11:07
So, the whole separation now between Abram and Lot sort of ends with the divine commentary on Sodom and Gomorrah and now that Lot is out of the picture, Lot being a deluding, destructive influence on Abram, God is now in a position to reaffirm what He promised to Abram and you see that in verses 14 through 18,
Genesis 13:14‒18 – Abram’s Promises Reaffirmed
you see that dimensions verse 14 (Gen 13:14), the donation verse 15 (Gen 13:15), the duration verse 15 (Gen 13:15), the descendants verse 16 (Gen 13:16), the destination verse 17 (Gen 13:17), the departure verse 18 (Gen 13:18). Notice the dimensions as God now is reaffirming what He promised initially to Abram. Is not as if Abram suddenly now is in a position to gain these promises, he already had them. What he is now in a position though is to see what he has, because when there is sort of a destructive, deluding influence around you, pulling you down as I think Lot was doing to Abram, it has sort of a blinding effect. You can’t fully grasp, you can’t fully see, you can’t fully understand what you have and so God has to make a separation where His promises can become crystallized, not for God’s sake but for our sake and you’ll notice verse 14 (Gen 13:14), it says: Then the Lord said to Abram… Abram was a man who received from God personal blessing. You see that all the way back in Genesis, 12, verse 2 (Gen 12:2) and part of that personal blessing is the fact that God spoke to Abram in direct revelation seven times. He did it once in chapter 12, verses 1 through 3 (Gen 12:1-3). He did it again in chapter 12 verse 7 (Gen 12:7) and He’s doing it again here and as this quote, which I won’t belabor with you today, reveals he’s going to do it four more times. Shouldn’t surprise us because God told Abram, I’ll bless you and as you move on into verse 14 (Gen 13:14) it says: After Lot had separated from him… So you’ll notice that these blessings begin to happen, they become crystallized in Abram’s mind after the separation and this is very common with God. This is why we’re told in 2nd Corinthians, 6, verses 14 through 16 (2 Cor 6:14-16): Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what it’s unclean; And I will welcome you… and then God says, I will be a father to you and you shall be sons and daughters to me. So, it’s interesting that God promises blessings when we separate ourselves from the world. Now obviously you can’t leave the world or else you couldn’t function in life but quite clearly, the Bible is very clear that we’re not to intentionally put ourselves into situations where we’re unequally yoked with the unbelieving world. A yoke, of course, was like a harness that went over two animals and if one animal was stronger than the other, the stronger would influence the weaker. The Bible is very clear about entering into personal relationships, even business relationships with someone of a different value system than yourself where they could negatively influence you. God says: Remove yourself from that.. which is what’s happened here with the separation with Lot and then God says: …the blessing will follow… You’ll gain greater clarity of what you have once you do this separation. 15:52
Here’s a verse that’s on all of our refrigerators at home, at least it’s on mine: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Well, gee Lord, you’re not doing the last one there, my paths aren’t straight. Oh, well, have you done the first three things? I mean, are you trusting me with all your heart, are you leaning not on your own understanding, are you acknowledging me in all ways? Ok, then I’ll make your paths straight. You’ll notice that the blessing is coming because of obedience. This is not a blessing for salvation. This is growth and sanctification in the life of the Christian. So Abram is receiving a clarification here because he did what God said, and separated himself from an ungodly influence. This is why I’m a big believer in Christian camps, Christian retreats, we’ve got several excellent camps just in this area. In fact, my wife today, you might wonder where she is, she is speaking at a mother-daughter camp, a mother-daughter retreat at Frontier Camp. She’s probably speaking right now even as I’m speaking. No, it’s not online so don’t tune me out (laughs) and tune her in. I wouldn’t blame you if you did that by the way and you know there’s something about getting, you know, the camp sort of atmosphere when you’re separated from normal encumbrances and it’s interesting how the Lord has a tendency to speak to us so clearly in those environments. I remember I was shipped off at a very young age to a Baptist Camp and this was in a time when they, in Christianity, believed in hell, cause they talked about hell all the time at this camp. I don’t know how that would work today, but I remember leaving there knowing that hell existed and I didn’t want to go and I got that understanding and I think it softened me and made me receptive to the Gospel but I remember very clearly God speaking through these different teachers and preachers in to my life at this type of retreat or camp. God works through circumstances of separation. 18:29
The Lord said to Abram, verse 14 (Gen 13:14), after Lot had separated from him: Now lift up your eyes and look… That is designed to parallel with Genesis, 13, verse 10 (Gen 13:10) where Lot, who made a bad choice, lifted up his eyes and saw. Lot is walking by sight, Abram is walking by faith. In fact, walking by sight is what got the human race into trouble to begin with, because when you go back to Genesis, 3, verse 6 (Gen 3:6), the fall of man, it says: When the woman saw that the tree was good for food and a delight to the eyes… there’s the beginning of the problem. The appeal to the senses, but it’s interesting that when God takes our eyes off the things of the world, he has a tendency to give us a different set of eyeglasses. Have you noticed that? God is not anti-sight, spiritual sight, he just wants us to look at the world through a brand new prism and you see that there with his dealings with Abram where He says: Now, lift up your eyes and look. Don’t look the way Lot looked, look through the prism that I will give you… and I’ll tell you something, if the Holy Spirit does anything, He’ll do that for you. He’ll give you a new set of eyeglasses. Ephesians, 1, verse 18 (Eph 1:18), Paul says: …that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of His glory and of His inheritance in the saints… Jesus said to Nicodemus in John, 3, at night, I call it the “Nick at night” conversation: Truly, Truly I say… that’s even better than Nickelodeon, isn’t it? (laughs)… Truly, truly, I say to you, unless someone is born again one cannot see the kingdom of God… It’s a perception problem. 1st Corinthians, 2, verse 14 (1 Cor 2:14) says: But the natural man does not accept the things that are of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, for they are spiritually appraised… 20:56
One of the great ministries of the Holy Spirit is His ministry of illumination. In fact, if the Spirit of God is not exercising his ministry of illumination right now as I speak, there’s really no point being here. I pray for it constantly in any teaching opportunity that the Lord gives. Lord, let this not be another religious exercise or ritual, let the Holy Spirit be at work, enlightening people’s minds and eyes and start with me Lord. 1st John chapter 2, verse 27 (1 John 2:27) says: As for the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no one, no need of anyone to teach you… this was written during a time where the Gnostics were teaching a secret knowledge. John says, you don’t need a secret knowledge, you have the Holy Spirit and it says in 1st John 2:27: …but as His anointing teaches you all the things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him… You have an anointing from God to see spiritual realities. This is not divine revelation which is the disclosure of new truth. This is not inspiration, which deals with the recording of Scripture, those ministries are past, but it has to do with a special ministry that the Spirit of God seeks to do using proper Bible Study methodology or he will open your eyes to things about God and yourself and things that you need in your life and that’s His business. It’s a ministry that we call illumination.
The Lord said to Abram after Lot separated from him: Now, lift up your eyes and look… You need a spiritual set of eyeglasses to understand what it is you have and you’re in a position to understand it because you’ve separated yourself from a worldly influence. He says, at the end of verse 14 (Gen 13:14): Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are… Now, where was he? Well, verse 12 (Gen 13:12) tells us he was in the land of Canaan. We don’t have an exact geographical marker where he was but we would think he was probably mid-Canaan somewhere… Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are and look northward and southward and eastward and westward. So Abram, I want you to look for directions from where you are in the land of Canaan. I want you to look up north. The word for north in Hebrew here is just the standard word for north, look north and then I want you to look south. Now in Hebrew the word for south is “towards the Negev”, you’d see it circled there, towards the southern part of the nation and then I want you to look to the east. Now, the word for east is “where the sun rises” and this map here probably doesn’t do justice to what Abram saw because I believe he saw a lot of territory east of the Jordan river and then I want you to look to the west. The Hebrew word for west is “towards the sea” and the sea would be the Mediterranean. Look up north, look toward the sun rises, look to the Negev and look all the way to the Mediterranean and I’m going to make a donation. 24:52
Genesis 13:14‒18 – Abram’s Promises Reaffirmed
These are the dimensions, verse 14 (Gen 13:14), you start to get a description of the donation that God is going to make verse 15 (Gen 13:15). It’s actually not a new promise; it’s reiterating what he already had but couldn’t see, because of the worldly, ungodly influence. Verse 15 (Gen 13:15): Some of the land… Woops! It doesn’t say that… For all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants for six months… Woops! It doesn’t say that… forever. So, what exactly did Abram see? He saw a lot and God says, I’m going to give all of it to you. Now, “all” means what? It means all. Would that not include the Jordan Valley that Lot chose for himself, verse 11 (Gen 13:11)? If you look at verse 11 (Gen 13:11) it says: So Lot chose for himself all of the Valley of Jordan and Lot journeyed eastward. Notice the word “chose” verse 11, you notice how God is respecting the choice of carnal Lot. The absolute worst thing that could ever happen in your life is God gives you what you want, because what you want is not always the best and many times we want it so bad and we’re, you know, operating in our flesh and God finally says, Okay! Have it. Lot got exactly what he wanted and then Lot separates, God respects his volition, and then God turns around to Abram and tells him to look in these four directions and He says, all of it, including what Lot chose, you’re going to get. Now, Abram probably thought to himself when Lot made the best choice from the human perspective, he probably thought to himself, Boy! I’m going to get conned, I’m going to get short changed. I mean, I would think those would be thoughts going through his mind and those are the same thoughts that go through your mind when God calls you to make a godly choice. Satan will whisper in your ear about all the things you’re going to lose out on and yet, the great paradox, one of the great paradoxes of the Bible is, when you step out in faith and make the right choice, you don’t lose anything. In fact, Abram gained what Lot himself chose for himself in this divine promise. In other words, in the providence of God and in the timing of God, Abram, don’t worry about what Lot just did, you’re going to have it all. You’re going to have it personally and so are your descendants. Yeah, but Lot, he chose what was best from the human perspective. He chose the territory that was watered like Eden. He chose the territory that was watered like the Nile delta. Genesis chapter 3, verse 11, verse 10 (Gen 3:10-11) explains. So I guess I’m just going to get, you know, lesser quality stuff, and God says, you’re not going to get lesser quality stuff because you’re going to get everything in my timing and that’s the problem, is we don’t really like to wait on God’s timing. You’re going to get in my timing everything, including what he just chose for himself via carnal motives. 28:52
What a paradox this is in the Bible! Jesus said to his disciples in Matthew, 16, verse 25 (Matt 16:25): Whoever loses his life for my sake will… Will what? Will find it. Well, that doesn’t make any sense. You don’t find your life by losing your life, Jesus says that’s the way I work. You give up something for me, I’ll fill your hands with something greater and something better, and something you didn’t even dream of. You’re not going to fall behind in the broad spectrum of things at all. Matthew, 19, verses 27 through 30 (Matt 19:27-30): Peter… I call him the Apostle with the foot shaped mouth (laughs) that’s why I love him so much, I can identify with him, it says: Then Peter said to him… that’s Jesus… Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us? Well, gee Peter, don’t beat around the bush, just come out and tell me how you feel. What’s in it for us? We’ve been following you around for over three years, we’ve given up family, we’ve given up vocation, we’ve given up everything. Jesus answered and said to them. Truly I say to you that you who have followed me in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you will sit upon twelve thrones governing the twelve tribes of Israel and everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or fathers or mothers or farms for my sake, this is property, this is vocation, this is livelihood, this is jobs. Some of you, as you’re narrating to me your personal circumstances, are having to choose between your conviction of something and a vocation and a job. This is real stuff that people are walking through as Christians right now and everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My sake will receive many times as much and will inherit eternal life, but many who are first, will be last and the last, first. What a strange way of thinking and yet, it’s biblical. It’s what Abram here is experiencing as he probably felt short changed as he was walking by faith.31:39
You look at verse 15 (Gen 13:15) and it continues on and it says: I will give it… What is that? That’s the land, that’s everything, including what Lot took for himself… in the end, in my timing, I will give it to you… Now, we would call this a royal grant, no conditions attached. I think Abram already possessed this but he probably forgot about it because of his sojourn into Egypt and the deluding influence of Lot but now he’s in a place of sanctification and separation and he’s able now to see clearly as God is readjusting his eyesight and his perception. I will give you all the land… Notice the word “you”, because when you go through the story of the life of Abraham, which we are doing, he dies in Genesis, 25, and you know what kind of land he possessed? The only land he possessed when he died was the burial plot for his wife Sarah at the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron and yet God here is promising Abram everything that he saw. So, obviously this creates an expectation of a future time period, we might call this the coming kingdom. Can we do that? For these promises will be fulfilled. Once the kingdom materializes and you possess everything, this issue that you just had with Lot, that won’t even be in remembrance any longer. The Bible is pretty clear that our momentary trials are but a blip on the radar screen compared to the glory that awaits us and that’s the readjustment of sight that we need as we walk through life’s difficulties. Not only Abram will I give it to you… end of verse 15 (Gen 13:15)… I will give it to your descendants… What descendants? Well, we’re going to get more than an explanation on that in verse 16 but the promise has already been made back in chapter 12, verse 7 (Gen 12:7) that his descendants are going to receive this land. it’s just the difference is, Abram, you’re part of the package, you’re going to get it too, and you move into the end of verse 15 (Gen 13:15) and we see the duration of these promises, it’s just one word. There it is at the end of verse 15: Forever… It’s the Hebrew word “Olam” which is used many times to describe God himself. Psalm 19 and verse 2 (Psalm 19:2) of God says: Before the mountains were born Or You gave breath to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting… that’s Olam… to everlasting, You are God… God is forever. Lot gets a little enjoyment during his life but you get the whole thing forever because you’re doing things my way. You’re walking by faith, Lot is walking by sight. Olam is used to describe eternal life and eternal damnation in the Bible. Daniel, 12 and verse 2 (Dan 12:2) says: Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt… We have a problem here folks, because the nation of Israel, historically, although they gained this property or at least a big part of it in the days of Joshua, they’ve never possessed it forever.
In fact, the kingdom was split between the north and the south following the Solomonic empire and the north was swept away into dispersion by the Assyrians in 722 BC, the south was taken into captivity by the Babylonians in 586 BC and even though the nation of Israel went back into the land or some of them went back into the land in the return, and Wednesday’s nights we’re studying Zechariah, one of the great prophets of that time period, the return, getting them to rebuild the temple, 40 years after the life of Christ they were kicked out of the land again by the Romans. 36:40
So, forever has never been satisfied. Forever has never been fulfilled. That heightens our expectations, doesn’t it? Of the coming kingdom on the earth, where these promises have to be fulfilled and last for a thousand years and someway be adjusted into the eternal state. Forever, means forever, and he talks here, verse 16, about not just you Abram, it’s your descendants. Look at verse 16 (Gen 13:16):
Genesis 13:14‒18 – Abram’s Promises Reaffirmed
I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth… So that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. You’re going to have so many descendants, it’s going to be like the dust of the earth. Now in Genesis, 15, verse 5 (Gen 15:5), Abram’s descendants are analogized to the stars. In fact, Abram is going to be invited by God to look up into the stars and try to count them if you can. Just as the stars themselves can’t be numbered, Abram’s descendants will be innumerable just like the stars, just like the dust of the earth. No extra charge for this but the truth to the matter is philosophers have always thought that the stars can be counted. You can go back in history and read some of the great philosophers, they all thought they had a count on the stars and then the Hubble Telescope came along and we actually see how tiny we are in this solar system galaxy and way beyond and the stars themselves can’t be counted from a human perspective. You sort of get the idea that God knew that all along. How could poor God have known that without the invention of the Hubble Telescope? (laughs) Because he designed our world. He knew that the stars from the human perspective were simply innumerable and just as the stars are innumerable just as dust itself is innumerable, so your descendants will be. Now, we have a little problem here, don’t we? Because back in chapter 12, verse 4 (Gen 12:4) How old is Abram? He’s 75 years old. His wife, ten years younger than him, Genesis 17:17 says that. She’s 65. She’s 65, he’s 75, not exactly child bearing, child rearing age. That’s why Abram doesn’t take God at His Word here in chapter 15, but tries to make it sound as if these promises are going to be fulfilled through a servant in his household. God says no and rebukes Abram for that, these are going to come from your own body and you can see how absurd the promise looked to Abram, made no logical sense. How is poor little old God going to pull this one off? Well, what we’re going to learn is spelled out in Genesis, 18, verse 14 (Gen 18:14). Is anything too difficult for the Lord? Think about that. Think about the problem or the crisis that you’re in now and how it looks sometimes as if there’s no way out. You have to remember that nothing is too difficult for the Lord. These promises just seem off the charts. I mean, they’re so off the charts that Abram himself didn’t even believe them. He’s trying to manipulate them into existence as if poor God needs our help and yet, nothing is too difficult for the Lord. God, I don’t know the way, I don’t know the path but God is going to do something. He’s going to open a door, He’s going to move a mountain. I don’t know exactly how he’s going to do it, when it’s going to do it, where it’s going to do it but he’s going to do it and he’s the right to do it cause he’s God. There’s nothing too difficult for God and what is being laid here is the foundation of what we’ve called the Abrahamic Covenant. 41:37
Now we don’t have a covenant yet, these are just promises which are enough but they’re going to be ratified into official covenant form in Genesis, 15.
You’ll see the word covenant used for the first time in God’s dealings with Abram, it’s the Hebrew word “beriyth” Genesis, 15, verse 18 (Gen 15:18) where God is going to cut a covenant with Abram related to Himself and the future of the nation of Israel and that Covenant has three parts: Land, seed and blessing. The first three you’ve already seen developing here and the only thing is going to happen in the rest of the Bible is God is going to come along and He’s going to amplify the promises. Land is going to get amplified on what’s called the Land Covenant. Seed is going to get amplified on what’s called the Davidic Covenant. Blessing is going to be amplified on what it’s called the New Covenant and you’re seeing the beginning of the whole thing materialized and so we move away from the descendants and you move to the destination and what does it say here?
Genesis 13:14‒18 – Abram’s Promises Reaffirmed
Arise and walk about the land through its length and its breadth for I will give it to you. Abram, just to sort of internalize everything that you’ve been promised here, I want you to take the first ever Holy Land Tour, cause I have people tell me that, you know, oh, you take people to Israel, why do you waste money on that? That’s so unspiritual. Well, I guess God is being unspiritual here because he’s giving Abram a tour of the premises and by the way since you’re going to be there for a thousand years, you might want to go over at some point and sort of get the lay of the land as well. So Abram is told to go on this Holy Land Tour, he says: I want you to walk through the length of this, it’s big. So, this guy, this 75 year old guy is in shape I guess, because one of the mistakes you can make when going on the Holy Land Tour is not being in some kind of decent shape. You don’t have to be a marathoner, but you should get used to walking cause you do an awful lot of that. Walk through the length that’s the northern and southern aspects of the land. Walk through the breadth, that’s the east-west dimension, because the whole thing is going to be yours and your descendants one day. 44:29
Now, you would not believe the absolute juggling and hat dance that people go through as theologians try to explain this, because most Christians are sitting in denominations that basically teach that the church has replaced Israel, Replacement Theology, and all of Israel’s blessings have been spiritually transferred to the church. It’s what Augustine taught going all the way back to the fourth century. Most Christians by way of denominational affiliation are taught this from their pulpits at their churches around the clock and the problem that a Replacement Theologian has is the Bible, because they have to sort of do something to make it seem as if, Oh, nothing to see here folks, move right along. So how do you explain away, all of the territory that he is to receive forever? Well, you try to say, well that already happened in the past. It happened in Solomon’s reign, it happened under Joshua. The problem is forever has never been fulfilled. Israel never possessed this territory forever. It obviously isn’t happening today because the nation of Israel, in unbelief, is but a sliver of what God promised.
The blue area is basically what Israel possessed in the past, in the days of the judges Joshua, it’s a pretty good picture, maybe it’s a little small, of what Israel possesses today, but you see, what Israel possess today is but a sliver of everything that God said He would give to Abram. He said He would give him a tract of real estate that spans from modern day Egypt to modern day Iraq, from the Nile to the Euphrates river itself and then there is territory in the Transjordan that you’re going to receive, because everybody today is upset about the West Bank. When are the Jews going to give up the West Bank? Are you kidding me? Not only are they going to get the West Bank one day, they’re going to get the East Bank, and for reasons we’ve already talked about, I don’t like that expression “West Bank” anyway. You can go back into prior sermons and see why we don’t like to use the expression “West Bank”. The primary reason is I don’t see it in the Bible. Can someone find for me the words “West Bank” in the Bible? You can’t. That territory called the West Bank is Judea and Samaria, it’s west of Jordan, but it’s east of Israel. So when you use the expression “West Bank” , you’re using an anti-Israel slur without even realizing it. It’s a lot like using the word “Palestine” which is not found in the Bible either. Palestine comes from the word “Philistine” which comes from Hadrian who in the second century tried to, much like the Muslims do today, make it sound as if the Jews were never there and he mocked the Jews by calling the name of that territory after their ancient enemies, the Philistines. You throw the word Palestine around and West Bank around, and words mean things, and suddenly we’re using a bunch of vocabulary that we don’t understand that is anti-Israel, anti-Bible and anti-God.
So, what do the Replacement Theologians do with this giant tract of real estate since obviously it’s never been fulfilled in the past and it’s not being fulfilled spiritually, well they just say this is heaven. This is just talking about the believer going to heaven one day. That’s honestly what they do with it. 48:53
Arnold Fruchtenbaum writes these words:
Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum – The Book of Genesis, 258
“It is verses like this that become totally meaningless in the amillennial view of the end times, which interprets the Land promise as nothing more than a symbol of Heaven. Such a view, which denies that a literal thousand-year reign of Messiah on the earth is prophesied by the Bible, renders verses such as 13:17 totally nonsensical. Is God asking Abram here to come up to Heaven and take a look around to see if he likes it because someday he is going to get to possess Heaven? This is hardly the meaning of the text. The text is obviously talking about a piece of real estate upon which he was living at that time.”
“He was told to walk around with his feet all over the Land, because someday he was going to possess it. A view like this cannot just be spiritualized away in order to make it fit a preconceived theology. No doubt, the New Testament teaches Abram also looked for a city, a heavenly one; but one aspect does not contradict the other or cancel out the other. It is not “either/or” but “both/and.” Abram was promised both a physical inheritance on earth as well as a spiritual one in Heaven.”
It is verses like this that become totally meaningless in the amillennial… that’s Replacement Theology… view of the end times, which interprets the Land promise as nothing more than a symbol of Heaven. Such a view, which denies the literal thousand-year reign of Messiah on the earth is prophesied by the Bible, renders Genesis 13:17 totally nonsensical. Is God asking Abram here to come up to Heaven and take a look around to see if he likes it because someday he is going to get to possess Heaven? This is hardly the meaning of the text. The text is obviously talking about a piece of real estate upon which he was living at that time. He was told to walk around with his feet all over the Land, because someday he was going to possess it. A view like this cannot just be spiritualized away in order to make it fit a preconceived theology. No doubt, the New Testament teaches that Abram also looked for a city, a heavenly one; but one aspect does not contradict the other or cancel out the other. It is not “either/or” but “both/and.” Abram was promised both a physical inheritance on earth as well as a spiritual one in Heaven… When people say the land is heaven they just engage in a practice called spiritualizing. Spiritualizing is the idea that the text and what it says is not important. What is important is the higher spiritual meaning that the interpreter gives to the text, allegorization, and the nice thing about being an allegorist is you could never lose your job, because you’re the only one that knows what a spiritual interpretation is, cause this sure isn’t evident for the rest of us. So we have to rely upon the allegorist to rewrite the Bible for us. Maybe this will stick.
“He (or she) who spiritualizes tells spiritual lies.”
He who spiritualizes tells spiritual lies. I mean, you may be listening to a sermon and I heard quite an allegorical sermon when I first got saved as a Christian regarding the gates around the city of Jerusalem in the days of Nehemiah and there’s a fish gate and the preacher says: Fish, that stands for evangelism. Jesus said, let’s be fishers of men. So when we look at that gate you should be thinking about evangelism. Oh, and then there’s the water gate. The water is the Holy Spirit and the fact to the matter is God wants us to walk under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Now, there was a manure gate, they didn’t touch the manure gate (laughs). So what is the fish gate? Is the fish gate Nehemiah, 2, talking about evangelism? No, what they mean is they took fish in and out of the gate. Yeah, but no one wants to hear about that, we want to hear about evangelism. Fine, then preach a sermon for evangelism, about evangelism, don’t use Nehemiah, 2. Nehemiah, 2 has nothing to do with it. This is the kind of thing that you hear in so many places, it’s like, great sermon, it gave me my liver quiver of the day, but wrong passage and you sit there struggling to figure it out where the preacher ever got that idea. Well, they got the idea from somewhere outside the passage and they’re reading it into the passage and what they’re saying is the passage isn’t important, what’s important is the higher meaning that I’m going to provide to the passage. People sit under this type of teaching around the clock within modern day Christendom in the church world. The problem is, when you do that, when you spiritualize, it doesn’t matter if you have the liver quiver of the day or not, it’s still a spiritual lie, cause that’s not what the passage says and so when is all of this going to be fulfilled? Hey, little old man, I’ve got an answer for it. I don’t have to spiritualize anything, it’s all going to happen exactly like God says, cause it’s impossible for God to lie, amen? And by the way, you should be very grateful that it’s impossible for God to lie because God could say to you. Oh, you know what you believed in John 3:16? That’s been abrogated now. 53:56
By the way, that’s what the Muslims do in their alleged Holy Books. They have some verses talking about war and other verses talking about peace and when they’re in the minority in a world, in the community, in the city, in the country, they talk up the peace verses but once they get the majority and they get the levers of political power, suddenly the war verses come out. It’s the Mecca verses versus the Medina verses. It’s patterned after what Mahomed himself did. How he was Mr. Nice Guy in one part of his life but when he got the levers of political power, he became Mr. Mean and you say, well, Mr. Muslim what happened to the peace verses? They got abrogated, that’s their term. It’s not my term, it’s their term. Abrogation. A lot of people look at the Bible that way. They have no doctrine of a coming kingdom, pre-millennialism that we teach here. So what do you do with passages like this? You just say they’ve been abrogated. The higher truth is, they give a fancy name for it, the Christ Truth. Somehow Christ rewrites these Old Testament passages. Let me tell you something, and if you learn nothing more in this church but this one thing, you’ll be so far ahead of the curve. The New Testament does not change what the Old Testament says. If the New Testament changed the Old, God would be lying to all the people He spoke to, like Abram, in the Old Testament. Rather, the New Testament is to be interpreted in light of what God has already revealed in the Old Testament. If you’re sitting in a church where you’re getting an interpretation that contradicts God’s unconditional promises, then you’re sitting in a spiritualizing, allegorical church where the whole focus is the liver quiver, the meaning of the text is irrelevant, and yet people sit, sometimes for their whole life under such teaching. We have no ambition here to allegorize anything. God means what He says and says what He means. God will do exactly what He says because we don’t think we’re the kingdom, we think we are the church age but the kingdom is yet future, when this promise would be fulfilled in total, complete detail. Why do we think that so aggressively? It relates to God’s nature. He is not an abrogator, He is not a deceiver as Islam teaches in their system. He is 100% God, 100% of the time and could never do anything to divorce Himself from who He is and you should be celebrating right now, at least in your heart because God’s made you some promises too, hasn’t He? and how do I know that you can take those to the bank? Because of things I’m talking about here. God has a track record and then we end here with the departure, verse 18 (Gen 13:18):
Genesis 13:14‒18 – Abram’s Promises Reaffirmed
Then Abram moved his tent… Continuing on with verse 18, it says: …and he came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD… Now, when you look in the next chapter at Genesis, 14, verse 13 (Gen 14:13), one chapter to the right, it says: Then a fugitive came and told Abram the Hebrew, now he was living by the oaks of Memre, the Amorite… Memre got the name that it got because of Amorite influence. We know and there’s where he was at Memre and Hebron.
We know that Noah had three sons, one of those sons was named Ham, from Ham came Canaan, from Canaan came all of the ites, including the Amorite and these people went and settled in the land of Canaan and they built city states all over the land of Canaan and so, you have to understand this, that when Abram is doing his Holy Land Tour here, and he’s walking north and south and east and west and he’s looking up north and he’s looking south and he’s looking towards the sea and he’s looking towards the east where the sun rises, you have to understand that that land was filled with Canaanite city states.
That’s why Lot and Abram had to separate because there wasn’t enough pasture land for both wealthy men of burgeoning flocks. So he has to accept everything that he is receiving from God by way of faith. Yeah, but Lord what about the Amorites, what about the Canaanites, what about the termites, what about the out of sights, what about the electric lights, God says it’s not your problem. It’s not your problem. I’ll take care of the Ites. You just believe what I told you. Even though, from the human perspective, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to you, cause you need to look at it through a readjusted prism and so that’s what Abram does and it says there, end of verse 18 (Gen 13:18): He built an altar to the Lord… he started to worship God. I mean, let me ask you a question and this sort of hits home for me as well. Do you worship God only when you’ve got everything figured out? What about when God’s leading in your life totally makes zero sense, but you know it came from God. I mean, anybody can worship the Lord when life is under control. I mean, any fool, pardon my crassness here, can do that, but can we worship the Lord when God isn’t making a lot of sense? That’s what Abram is doing here. He’s worshiping the Lord in spite of the fact that his eyes, from the human perspective, are telling him something different. 1:01
By the way, he builds an altar to the Lord and worships twice in Genesis, 12 and now he’s doing it a third time here in Genesis, 13. I would say this is a lifestyle for him. This idea of worshiping the Lord, calling on the name of the Lord is not like a once, twice, three times thing, he does this all the time, this is who he is and that’s who we’re to be, aren’t we? Romans, 12, verse 1 (Rom 12:1) says: Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship… Worship should be who we are, should be our lives. We’ve talked about this before, what is worship? Worship is just a response to truth. Jesus said to the woman at the well in John 4:24 says: God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth… Worship is a response to truth and Boy! Has Abram received truth here. He has no idea how God’s going to pull it off, right down to the innumerable descendants but he just worships the Lord. This is, as I said last week, this is not the same guy that I recall reading about in Genesis, 12, where he was lying and fabricating and misrepresenting and not trusting God. I certainly am not the man I should be. I’m not the man I’m supposed to be, but thank God I’m not the man I used to be, because God is at work developing character. You may not have had a perfect week or a perfect year but if you’re sensitive to the things of God, you’ll be able to look back and you’ll be able to see growth. That’s the walk of sanctification that’s being role modeled here and he’s building an altar in pagan territory. This is Amorite territory. He’s living like an ambassador. 2nd Corinthians, 5, verse 20 (2 Cor 5:20) says: Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ… What is an ambassador? It’s someone who reflects a certain set of values in enemy territory. If I’m America’s ambassador to Iran, I’m not there for regime change. I’m there to represent American values in Shi’ite Muslim territory. You are not here for a regime change, but you are here to represent God’s values in the devil’s world.
It’s what’s called Matthew, 5, verse 13 through 16 (Matt 5:13-16), being salt and light. Why do we need light in this world? Cause it’s dark, have you noticed? Why do we need salt in this world? which is a preservative because the world is corrupting, corroding and rotting and so this is what Abram is exemplifying here. One final quote, Arnold Fruchtenbaum says:
Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum – The Book of Genesis, 258-59
“This way, he would get to know the Land very well. As he walked through the Land, he took physical possession of the Land, prophetically speaking, since he did not get to own the Land in his lifetime; but he will own the Land in the Messianic Kingdom…Here also: He built an altar unto Jehovah by the oaks of Mamre. Again, Abram built a true altar in a pagan worship place. By walking through the Land, Abram was prophetically taking physical possession of the Land; and by building these altars in pagan places, Abram was also taking spiritual possession of the Land.”
This way, he.. that’s Abram… would get to know the Land very well. As he walked through the Land, he took physical possession of the Land, prophetically speaking, since he did not own the Land in his lifetime; but he will own the Land in the Messianic Kingdom. He also built an altar unto Jehovah by the oaks of Mamre. Again, Abram built a true altar in a pagan worship place. By walking through the Land, Abram was prophetically taking physical possession of the Land; and by building these altars in pagan places, Abram was also taking spiritual possession of the Land… He was walking out his life here prophetically speaking and spiritually speaking because he had that much confidence in the promises of God, who cannot lie and one quick promise as we close, we call it the Gospel. Jesus through His death, burial, resurrection and ascension, two thousand years ago, coming from the line of Israel, whose nationhood has been developed in our passage as we speak, did something for us that we cannot do for ourselves, He bridged the gap between God’s holiness and man’s sin. No amount of good works on the part of us can bridge that gap. Only Jesus can do it, as the God-man, as the monogenous, one of a kind. Jesus is not a difficult act to follow, He’s an impossible act to follow and He did it one time in history because of His love for humanity, and the only thing He asks is that we trust or rest or believe in what He’s done for us two thousand years ago. We stop trusting self, religiosity, we instead trust in Him, who said, it is what? Finished, and that’s how a person becomes a Christian. The Bible calls it believe, it’s used 160 times in this context. It’s just a fancy word for saying trust, reliance on, dependence upon. It has nothing to do with joining a church, walking an aisle, giving money, trying to keep our priorities right during the holidays, all good things but they have no saving value. We simply, in the condition of our heart as we come under His conviction, we trust in what He did for us. It’s not just intellectually understanding what He did, it’s actually depending upon what He did by way of faith. That is the simplest way I know of to explain the Gospel, in a time period when the religious world will confound and confuse you with this. They’ll take something so simple and they’ll turn it into a complicated maze, and yet God knows no such thing. This is not twelve steps, this is one step. It’s something you can do in the privacy of your own hearts even as I’m speaking. If it’s something you need more explanation on, I’m available after the service to talk.
Shall we pray? Lord we’re grateful for this man Abram, we’re grateful for his growth that we’re studying and his walk. Let us this week be like him as we seek to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory, we ask these things in Jesus’ name and God’s people said, Amen.